Conference 2017

‘Both pastoral and practical: religious archives in contemporary society’

The 2017 Catholic Archives Society conference was at Brunel Manor near Torquay, Devon from 22 to 24 May and was attended by 40 members of the Society.

The Conference followed the established pattern of four talks on management and use of archives plus interest groups that gave members an opportunity to consider and discuss current issues and an open forum where these discussions were brought together and other current matters raised.

The first of the four speakers was Professor Maurice Whitehead, Schwarzenbach Research Fellow and archive co-ordinator at the Venerable English College, Rome.  Using the Vatican publication ‘The Pastoral Function of Church Archives’ Professor Whitehead considered both his own role in identifying and managing the archives of the English College and the wider role of archives in the universal church.

Following him, archivist Jim Ranahan spoke of his own experience of the pastoral function of archives and described his experiences of their use as tools for mission and ministry.

In the third session Jon Elliott, the Archives and Records Association Head of Public Affairs spoke on the EU General Data Protection Regulations.  Speaking remotely and supported by PowerPoint, he explained the purpose of the forthcoming regulations and the role archivists should play and answered delegates’ questions.

The last speaker was Justine Rainbow of Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse who guided her audience through the complexities of the Inquiry by outlining the present situation and explaining what was and was not within the inquiry’s remit.

The Interest Groups included discussions on records management and data protection issues; diocesan archives and value of sharing policies; photographs including copyright, unidentified photographs and digitisation projects; and classification, retention, cataloguing and appraisal of records.

Feedback was presented to the meeting on the final morning and other matters referred to at the Open Forum were the Society’s visit to archives in Malta this September; the value of retaining ephemera in parish archives as well as more obvious archives such as registers and the efficiency of paying subscriptions by standing order.

The excursion was to Torre Abbey, a medieval Premonstratensian monastery that is now a museum, art gallery and ancient monument.  Michael Rhodes, author of the book “Torre Abbey”, gave a fascinating presentation on the Abbey’s 800 years of Catholic history, after which delegates explored the site.